As part of the Greater London Authority's London Plan, whole boroughs are divided into subregions so that statutory monitoring, engagement and resource allocation can be carried out. Hackney is assigned to the East sub-region in the most recent (2011) version of this plan, whereas it was assigned to the North and East sub-regions in 2008 and 2004. In 1965, the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney was merged with the much smaller Metropolitan Boroughs of Stoke Newington and Shoreditch to form the modern borough.
Place name & Origin
The name appears in the 13th century as Hackenaye or Hacquenye, but no definitive origin can be found. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names (fourth edition) discusses its origin. The first surviving records of the place name are as Hakney (1231) and Hakeneye (1242 and 1294). The "ey" suffix almost certainly refers to an island; according to the dictionary, Hackney means "Haka's island", with Haka being a local figure and the island (or inaccessible place surrounded by marshes) lying close to the River Lea. There was a time when this place was much more wild.
The dictionary suggests that the Hack element may also derive from:
- The Old English "Haecc", meaning a hatch – an entrance to a woodland or common.
- Or alternatively from "Haca", meaning a hook, and in this context, a bend of the river.
Considering the island context, the "hatch" option appears less likely than the preferred "Haka's Island" or the "Island on the bend".
In its original sense, Hackney may have referred to just the island or also to the manor centred around the island. Eventually, the name became applied to the whole ancient parish.
As a result of the merger of Hackney, Shoreditch, and Stoke Newington, the borough's boundaries are very closely based on the Ancient Parishes of the same name; these areas have been defined consistently over the centuries. Middlesex and Essex were historically separated by the River Lea.
These parish areas have a large number of subdistricts, some of which have their own subdistricts. These subdistricts are generally based on former hamlets that expanded and merged with urbanisation. Although these sub-districts have never been administrative units, they have developed a degree of informal definition over time.
The sub-districts typically take Metropolitan Borough\ Ancient Parish boundaries where available, and can also have informal customary boundaries like roads and railways. It is not unusual for perceptions of place to overlap or change over time despite the fact that many areas have only a weak or partial understanding of their extent.
In the former parish and borough of Stoke Newington, you will find Woodberry Down, while in Shoreditch you will find Hoxton and Haggerston.
There are many parts of Hackney that used to be part of the parish and borough of Hackney, including Hackney Central, Hackney Downs, West Hackney, Dalston, De Beauvoir Town, Shacklewell, Stamford Hill, London Fields, Upper and Lower Clapton, Hackney Wick and Homerton.